LABEL TO WATCH – MOBIADO
Have you ever seen a mobile phone made of meteorite, stealth, exotic woods, mother of pearl or mokume gane? Peter Bonac, who started his company Mobiado in 2004 in Vancouver, Canada, has been a step ahead all along…
He was the first to create mobile phones made from aircraft aluminum, the first to create a 3G luxury phone using sapphire crystal buttons, the first to design a mechanical watch phone, and the list goes on.
Peter Bonac’s background in engineering physics and four generations of technical family history influence Mobiado’s design and quality. Peter’s goal always was to create unique mobile phones that are not only based on engineering principles but on precision, quality and design known from the aerospace and luxury watch industries.
Transforming mobile phones into Precision Mobile Instruments, a process that Peter Bonac calls “Engeneering Art”, is what Mobiado is all about “I have always been taught about the importance of precision and quality, and I have taken that to heart with the designs I create. It is a matter of pride for me“.
Although occupying only a small niche within the highly competitive mobile phone market, Mobiado has been a first-mover since the company’s launch. Meet an extraordinary entrepreneur, engineer, and artist…
It’s not only a phone – it is a piece of art. If you have the funds to go the extra mile, keep watching and eventually invest in a Mobiado that is up your alley.
WTL: What are the milestones in your life that have lead you to launch MOBIADO?
PB: After graduating from university, my father gave me an antique Patek Philippe pocket watch. The watch had been passed on from generation to generation in our family. It was a moment of appreciation and respect for me. I wanted to start a tradition that I could pass on to my children. Not to create something that has already been done but to create something completely new. Mobiado originated from this desire.
WTL: How has your family and family business influenced you on your journey?
PB: My great grandfather Fran Bonac was a self-made entrepreneur with a machining background. He created paper mills all over the former Yugoslavia. My grandfather was an engineer with knowledge in machining passed down from his father; he passed down those skills to my father, who in turn passed them down to me. As far as I know there are at least four generations of engineers and machinists in my family, it is in our blood. I have always been taught about the importance of precision and quality, and I have taken that to heart with the designs I create. It is a matter of pride for me.
WTL: What is your mission for MOBIADO?
PB: The purpose of Mobiado is to create mobile phones as objects of art. Something that I myself would pass on to my children and them to theirs.
WTL: Who has inspired you along the way?
PB: My parents have always supported me in everything I do, allowing me the freedom to try new things. Without question I would not be where I am if it were not for their support and inspiration. Designers who have inspired me are Alexander McQueen, Luigi Colani, and Richard Mille.
WTL: You have an engineering physics degree – what career path did you have in mind?
PB: Early on in university I wanted to be a physicist and even played with the idea of going into medicine. Shortly after university, I ended up making a phone that I wanted for myself and that was not available to purchase. A phone that was unique in its design appearance and incorporated the engineering spirit that I find important. This is the phone that became the first Mobiado phone; the Professional. It was at this point that I realised that I was meant to be a designer.
WTL: What does the name “MOBIADO” mean?
PB: Mobiado was meant to sound European because of my European heritage and incorporated the word “mobi” which is a common European term for cell phone.
WTL: Which three words sum up what MOBIADO stands for?
PB: Precision Mobile Instrument.
WTL: Why are MOBIADO phones unique and what sets them apart?
PB: Mobiado’s design is unique and recognizable. All our phones share the same DNA; circular buttons, straight lines, perfect flat surfaces, and minimalistic design. A customer would recognize a Mobiado from across the room because its trademark design features. However it is not only the materials but how we use them. Our competitors use sapphire but we use it in ways that were never used before. For example for the Professional 105 series we used large sapphire plates to cover the entire front and back of the phone, something that has never been done before and still has not been duplicated. We also use interesting materials such as meteorite, exotic woods, mother of pearl, and mokume gane. Design and materials are the main two unique attributes to Mobiado, however even more importantly unique to Mobiado is how they are put together. The Mobiado design has spirit and purpose. The design incorporates rawness from my engineering background with the precision of the machines used to create it. None of our phones are luxury for the sake of being luxury; they are luxurious because of the design. This is why our phones are considered objects of art.
WTL: What is the technological and design advantage of a MOBIADO phone and what additional features are offered?
PB: The design is timeless. In a period when phones are constantly changing in shape, size, and functionality there is timelessness about Mobiado phones. Much like traditional mechanical watches, Mobiado phones represent the standard for being technologically uncomplicated. This is something that our customers appreciate.
WTL: What does “engineering art” mean to you?
PB: It means a design based on the precision of an engineering instrument but with artistic purpose.
WTL: Your phones are high precision pieces of art (especially looking at the Professional 3 DC) – would you also say that they can be seen as a piece of jewellery to invest in?
PB: Yes I would like to think so. Mobiado phones are more than simply phones; they are an investment in tradition.
WTL: Over the past 12 years, you have always been a step ahead in your development cycle, using unusual and new materials (first CNC machined phone to be created from aircraft aluminium, first exotic wood phone to be produced, first phone to use meteorite…). What can you predict about the future of mobile phones? What is coming next?
PB: Apple has released their new line-up as well as their entry into the wearables market. There is no question that the mobile industry is constantly changing and evolving. What the future path will be, I am not sure. However, I see change as an opportunity. Change creates a new direction allowing me to develop completely new designs.
WTL: What are the most difficult materials you had to work with?
PB: Mokume Gane provided many problem because it is not one material but three; copper, brass, and nickel-silver. These three materials are bonded together and hand twisted to produce a unique wood grain pattern. The problem I faced was that depending on where I machined I cut into a different material with different machining properties. We had to develop a special machining procedure to be able to finish Mokume Gane to a high quality appearance. It was well worth the effort.
WTL: What is the bigger challenge – to design / build the soft- or hardware?
PB: The hardest part is the hardware, the outside shell. There are many beautiful materials however many of them block reception, so how and where you use the material is critical in development. Also some materials start to become structurally unsuitable once you bring them down to a thin wall thickness. We have developed many techniques that allow us to make phone bodies from wood and stone hybrid with a thickness of 0.8mm yet still be able to take drops and wear without breaking. We are the only company that has done this.
WTL: How important are trends (in fashion, in design, in technology,..) for MOBIADO? What are the current trends in your industry?
PB: It is interesting to see what the design trends are in fashion, in watches, and in phones. As they are industries that interest me they do of course influence me as well. However, the idea behind Mobiado is to be different and to have its own unique spirit. I believe I have been able to accomplish that. As for current design trends in the mobile phone industry, I feel it is quite stuck. All phones are beginning to look the same. This is why Mobiado stands out. Being different is fun, at least it is for me.
WTL: What are today’s requirements and needs of a mobile phone (does it have to be exceptionally thin…)?
PB: I think the design should dictate the thickness of a phone. There are phones where being thicker actually adds to the feel and look of the phone. As for requirements, this is quite subjective. There are many different needs and wants for mobile phones. Our customers appreciate the minimal design and uncomplicated OS of our phones. I don’t think this will change.
WTL: How important is the luxury industry and in particular the fashion industry for you?
PB: The fashion and luxury industries are a result of the innovation and imagination of designers. This is why I find them interesting; both are creative spaces where designers are free to think outside the box.
WTL: What does “luxury” mean to you?
PB: I am not a fan of the word luxury because it can encompass so many things and is used so loosely. Too often is it used for objects where the only feature is using precious materials. The materials should not dictate luxury, the materials should only aid in the design. To me luxury is a well-designed creation; be it a painting, a car, or a mobile phone.
WTL: Have you ever collaborated with other companies and with whom would you want to work / collaborate with?
PB: I have collaborated with Martin Pauli from Angular Momentum of Switzerland. We did a phone watch set where they had matching case materials and the phone battery cover and watch dial were hand painted using the Verre Èglomisè technique with the image of a dragon. It would be an honour to work with Maximilian Büsser from MB&F. I have a tremendous appreciation of what he does and what he has accomplished.
WTL: What kind of customer is buying a MOBIADO phone?
PB: Our customers are design enthusiasts. Many of our existing customers do not only purchase our new models but keep their old Mobiado phones, they hold on to them as part of a collection.
WTL: Are there personalised and custom-made MOBIADO phones?
PB: Customizing our phones is not something I normally do. A lot of work goes into the design of our phones and I like to keep them as they are, like a finished artwork.
WTL: Which talent would you most like to have that you don’t possess?
PB: Ability to pick up languages quickly. Unfortunately it is not something I am good at.
WTL: What is your idea of happiness?
PB: Living life to its fullest. It’s that simple.
WTL: What was the best advice someone ever gave you (who was it)?
PB: My father told me to “Always ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish.” This is something I try to ask every time I start a design, get stuck on a project, and even in my personal life. It is a way to pull yourself outside of a situation and make the best decision.
WTL: What in life makes a fire burn inside of you?
PB: The idea that I can create something new, something that has never been done before. I can have an idea, a concept in my head and I can make it. I can hold the idea in my hand. This is something I find so enjoyable. Every time I start a new project I feel the excitement of the freedom of design.
WTL: What describes you better: daydreamer or realist?
PB: Realist with a sense of adventure.
WTL: If you could to tell us a story you have never told before, what would it be?
PB: When I was about 7 years old I snuck into my father’s woodworking shop. He was using several different machines and the wood planer was behind him. I was looking at the blade not sure if it was actually rotating very quickly or stationary. I decided it would be best to find out by touching with my finger. Needless to say it was in fact rotating but luckily did little damage. However that was the day I realized I needed limits to my curiosity.
WTL: What do you like to do when you are not working?
PB: I seem to be always working, even on vacations I am looking for design inspiration in the things around me. The three activities I really enjoy are mountaineering, car racing, and free-diving.
WTL: What is your favorite band and what music do you listen to?
PB: I don’t really have a favourite band, however I truly enjoy Sigur Rós. My musical taste is all over the place, from Jazz to Electronic. Any genre can have great music.
WTL: What was the last book you read (and liked)?
PB: “A Grand Design” by Stephen Hawking.
WTL: Which movie would you watch again?
PB: Any movie by Darren Aronofsky, I find all his movies to be exceptional.
WTL: What is your dream destination you love to travel to?
PB: The Lion City, also known as Shi Cheng, is an ancient submerged city that is located about 25 – 40 metres beneath the Qiandao Lake in China. I would love to go and free-dive the city.
WTL: What is your favorite restaurant?
PB: “The Bazaar” by José Andrés in Beverly Hills is an amazing culinary experience, and “Pourhouse” in Vancouer is my go to cocktail lounge.
WTL: If you can leave us with one thought, what would it be?
PB: Never stop trying to achieve your dreams.
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